Medical Emergencies While Traveling
Last night our daughter woke up with croup. Croup is an inflammation of the larynx and trachea (usually caused by a virus) which causes a deep barking sound and can lead to breathing difficulties. Sydney was rather distraught and asked us, “Why am I making this noise, am I going to die?” She was scared.
Fortunately, she did not have breathing difficulties and after a cup of hot herbal tea and a humidifier in her bedroom, she felt better and slept soundly the rest of the night. This incident really got me thinking about our future travels. What if she did have breathing difficulties while we were in a foreign country? What if she had breathing difficulties and we were far from medical help? What would we do?
Most travelers opt for some sort of travel or medical insurance to cover the expenses of medical care and emergency evacuations in case something happens. This is very important as medical bills can be expensive and can easily drain your entire life savings from one freak accident. But what is even more important is knowing how to get medical help if something does happen.
In the United States and Canada we are taught from an early age to call 911 during an emergency. While this is great when in the United States or Canada, it does not work for the rest of the world. From 000 in Australia to 999 in the United Kingdom, there are a lot of different numbers for the same thing. But unless you know which 3-digit number to call, help will not be coming to your aid.
While traveling in an unfamiliar place it is important to know where the nearest medical facility is located. Not all trips to the doctor are by ambulance (hopefully) and knowing how to get help for non-emergency conditions can save a lot of time and hassle. Wandering a foreign city where you do not speak the language looking for a medical clinic is not my idea of fun. Most hospitals and clinics can be found online and many have reviews that can help in deciding which places to choose, or which to avoid. Best to do your research before you arrive and have the addresses written down on a piece of paper that can be shown to a taxi driver, if needed.
Some travels take us far from cities and medical clinics and knowing what to do in an emergency can save a life. Knowing basic first aid and carrying a small properly stocked first aid kit in your day pack is essential for anyone getting off the beaten path. You never know what may happen and if you only have yourself to rely on, you better know what to do in an emergency.